1UP Yours/Listen Up
As I write this, I’m listening to the final 1UP Yours/Listen Up podcast before host Garnett Lee leaves the UGO gaming network for Shack News. That might not sound terribly interesting but listening to this weekly video game podcast has been a habit of mine for the past four years and the show was enourmously influential personally. It was the first podcast I ever listened to, it introduced me to many types of games I’d never previously considered and it was the impetus for us doing our own podcast back in 2007/08.
1Up Yours and Listen Up were great shows to listen to while doing mundane chores around the house or for passing time in the commute to and from work. I’m sorry to see it go. Nowadays, I’ve still got The Bugle, a political comedy podcast with Jon Oliver from The Daily Show and BBC Five Live Film Reviews with Mark Kermode and Simon Mayo. If anyone else has any recommendations for other podcasts to listen to, I’m all ears.
Most of the people in our office are all on Facebook and are friends with one another, including with their colleagues and their managers. And yet I keep seeing and reading about people who’ve called in sick to work but post contradictory information on their Facebook status. I’ve also seen people updating their status while in the office to say they’re bored and not doing work and people who heap shit on their job or on their colleagues. Does this happen at anyone else’s work? Maybe its a generational difference but I have no idea why people would do this. Aside from being really unprofessional, its almost always going to have a detrimental effect on the person themselves.
Lots of shows back on! The second half of South Park Season 13 started this week. It was a pretty so-so episode which is reflective of the quality of the season overall.
I’ve only managed to watch the first episode of the new ABC show Flash Forward and based on the intial viewing, I think I’ll check out a few more episodes. The concept of the show is that the entire global population passes out simultaneously over a two minute period and has a ‘flash forward’ dream of what they’ll be doing in April 2010. Its very reminiscent of the Lost pilot, where the show opens with a high budget disaster scene, has an ensemble cast and employs the use of flashbacks and of course, flash forwards.
The show is completely cheesy and comically bad. The characters are cookie cutter stereotypes: There is FBI chief who is basically the black police chief in every Eighties action movie. The only Arab characters are terrorists. All the kids on this show are the creepy kids from horror movies who whisper eery omens. The sassy computer-savvy lady in the show honestly suggests that a practical way to compile the entire planet’s memories is by ‘building a website’ which they can ‘cross-reference’.
The show also treats its audience like complete morons. Any scene in which the characters watch TV news footage or contact someone overseas, that person is always standing in front of a flaming wreckage of the landmark of their country (see flaming Eiffel Tower, flaming Big Ben etc). The show has all the subtlety of a sledgehammer. During the lead characters flash-forward he notices that he is wearing a friendship bracelet. Not only that, the words ‘friendship bracelet’ helpfully flash across the screen. Then, he remarks outloud “How odd, I was wearing a friendship bracelet in the future” to ominous music. Later in the episode, his daughter gives him a friendship bracelet. Not only does the ominous music return, the words ‘friendship bracelet’ flash across the screen again, just in case you didn’t catch what was happening.
Regardless, the concept is enjoyable and the show, despite its goofiness, certainly isn’t dull. As aforementioned, I’ll give it a few more episodes and see where it goes.
I’m also digging the seventh season of Curb Your Enthusiasm and the nineteenth season of Survivor. Now, I lump these two shows together because they are both the same as they always have been. Jeff says ‘Come on in guys’ to the contestants as they walk towards their challenge and Larry is yelling at Suzie Green. The formula is unchanged. For whatever reason, I never tire of this shit.
I remember reading an article about the Teletubbies that said the reason that they repeat the short video of kids doing an activity twice in each episode is that children like to know whats going to happen and its comforting for them to watch the exact same thing over and over. I don’t think we really lose that too much as we get older. All those episodes of the Small Wonder, Airwolf and Mr Belvedere that I watched in the Eighties and Nineties were pretty much identical. As you get older, you’ll want to watch some shows that do challenge you, which is where your shows like Lost, The Wire and Mad Men come in but there’s nothing like a bit of TV comfort food.
Some formulas wear off after a while. For me, House was like that. I liked him being cranky pants and checking to see if the patient has lupus, but one season was enough. Apparently, that show is still going and is more or less the same. Some shows I think aren’t designed to slavishly follow a formula but their producers decide to try anyway which is how we end up with Jack Bauer having seven really, really busy days in a version of America that has a terrorist attack every six months or that guy in Prison Break who’s been breaking out for four seasons now.
For me, the Curb Your Enthusiasm and Survivor formulas never seem to lose their charm to me. You get the odd clunker every now and then, but by and large, as long as Jeff is still asking contestants ‘wanna know what you’re playing for?’ and Larry is still being Larry, I’m a happy viewer.